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Gżira United captain Nikolai Muscat lived up to his role as he was the hero for the Maroons on two occasions as they advanced to the semi-finals of the FA Trophy.

The Malta international, who started on the bench, cancelled Gudja’s one-goal lead with a stoppage-time leveller before converting the decisive penalty and guide his team into the last four of the competition.

For Gudja, the defeat will be hard to digest after putting a solid defensive display keeping the Maroons at bay for almost all game.

Gudja United produced the first opportunity when Neil Tabone fired a long-range effort but Darijan Zarkov parried it into corner.

The Blues continued to enjoy a bright start and they made their pressure count on minute 29 when clinical forward Vito Plut capitalised from point-blank range.

Gżira’s reply came through Maxuell but his close-range effort sailed over the bar.

After the interval, Gabriel Bohrer came close to level terms with a well-struck freekick only to see Zammit save on the goal line.

Jefferson was also denied by the Gudja goalkeeper with the Brazilian trying to lob the ball over him from inside the area.

Gżira coach Darren Abdilla deployed winter signing Ewertton and Nikolai Muscat in search for more inspiration to find a leveller as the second half wore on.

Bohrer tried his luck again, this time with a strike from the edge of the area but could not find the target.

Gżira upped their ante in the closing stages with Nikolai Muscat forcing Zammit into action with a brilliant free-kick.

With the Maroons seemingly heading out of the competition, Muscat let fly a stupendous volley to level matters.

Moments later, Maxuell almost find Gżira’s second but he fired wide as the game headed to extra time.

Jefferson had the chance to put Gżira ahead in extra-time but once again could not have the better of Zammit from close range, with the Gudja goalkeeper denying Maxuell as well after the Brazilian tried his luck with a towering header.

Eventually, the semi-finalist had to be determined via a penalty shoot-out with Nikolai Muscat, again, proving Gżira’s hero with the winning penalty.

Penalty sequence Vella (GU) missed 0-0; Maxuell (GŻ) missed 0-0; Divaio (GU) scored 1-0; Cosic (GŻ) scored 1-1; Prates (GU) scored 2-1; Bohrer (GŻ) scored 2-2; Muchardi (GU) scored 3-2; Jefferson (GŻ) scored 3-3; Arthur (GU) missed 3-3; Muscat (GŻ) scored 4-3.

Referee: Slobodan Petrovic





Hibernians bounced back from their close defeat to Marsaxlokk last week as they cruised past Gudja United 4-1 at the Centenary Stadium on Sunday.

It was a dominant performance for Silvio Vella’s side and Jurgen Degabriele was the star of the show as he scored two spectacular goals on either side of the half which stunned Gudja.

After a balanced opening, Yunusa Muritala made Glen Zammit work on six minutes as the Gudja goalkeeper dived to parry away the close-range effort.

Six minutes later, Degabriele opened proceedings with a wonderful strike from a freekick on the left which rose above the crowded area and dipped over Zammit into the net.

Things got worse for Gudja on 21 minutes when Dunstan Vella pushed the ball into the area and was tripped by Neil Micallef. Referee Alex Johnson whistled for a penalty and sent off Micallef with a direct red card for a last-man challenge.

After two minutes of debate, Jake Grech stepped up to the spot and fired home to put Hibernians further head.

By this point, the tide was completely against Gudja as Andrea Agostinelli’s side struggled to find any kind of rhythm. They did manage a shot on the half-hour but James Arthur’s effort was too easy for Marko Jovicic.

Thaylor nearly made it three after 38 minutes after meeting a cross into the area but his volleyed shot bounced over the bar.

Gudja went close to finding a way back five minutes from the break when Hubert Vella headed towards goal from a freekick but his effort went just wide.

In added time, Gabriel Artiles hit a cross into the area which Vella tipped over with a header but Zammit was alert to push the ball into a corner. From the ensuing flag-kick, Gonzalo Llerena missed a golden opportunity with the last kick of the half when he skied a goalmouth shot.

After the break, Hibs continued to dominate possession but against the run of play, Gudja found a way back seven minutes in when Nicolas Navarrete fired in a cross and with the ball heading out, Thaylor could not move out of the way and instead bumped the ball into his own net.

63 minutes in, Degabriele showed another moment of class to put his side further ahead. Substitute Zachary Grech put in a cross into the area and provided the assist, after just three minutes on the pitch, for the Hibs forward to flick the ball in mid-air past Zammit.

Gudja replied seven minutes later with a long-distance effort from Tatsuro Nagamatsu which went wide. They tried again through Vito Plut on 74 minutes from a quick counter-attack but his shot was off.

At the death, Muritala made the most of a convincing display to take over possession from a misplaced pass and fired past Zammit to add another goal right before the final whistle.

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